An incredible trip to New Zealand

PUBLISHED: 10:03 22 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:03 22 November 2013

Beautiful Milford Sound on South Island’s west coast

Beautiful Milford Sound on South Island’s west coast

Archant

The trip of a lifetime can be a truly personal experience when organised by travel specialists such as Flackwell Heath’s Kaye Rankin, Sue Bromley discovers.

For Roy and Anne Smith life is just not long enough for all the things they’d like to experience and enjoy. As Roy says: “We’re not the sort of people who just meander through it all. Life is for living, not wandering aimlessly.”

This particularly applies to their joy at travelling to far-flung spots. In January they’re off to visit South East Asia, taking in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. No doubt it will be a splendid adventure but we wonder how it’s going to beat the incredible trip to New Zealand they had earlier this year.

To set the scene, this couple have just celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary, raising two children along the way. Anne was the sister of one of Roy’s schoolmates and they clicked on a blind date. He is a skilled cabinet and chairmaker, a craftsman who delights in the artisan skills of his Dorset ancestors who were shoemakers some 150 years ago.

That’s been their business, together with a tearoom, but with Roy now in his early 60s they are making the most of a chance to see the world while still very active. Both love to get off the beaten track. When son Robert took a year out for a tour of Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia they visited him in Australia.

“Since then Anne has often said ‘We really ought to go and see New Zealand’. On top of that I had a school friend, Carol, who emigrated to Auckland, so it was time to look at a visit,” says. Roy. “But we don’t do standard package trips because we are not standard people.”

Instead they turned to Kaye Rankin, a proud New Zealander and founder of All Ways Tailor Made. Kaye is an experienced specialist in arranging the finest bespoke holidays to New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific.

She runs her business from Flackwell Heath in Buckinghamshire, using her unique insight to match clients’ dreams to the perfect accommodation, itineraries and experiences during their visit. The Smiths say they ‘clicked’ with All Ways Tailor Made from the start, as Kaye carefully listened to their ideas for a ‘trip of a lifetime’ and then set about making it come true.

But it was only while in New Zealand that they realised just how much hard work she’d done behind the scenes. “Kaye arranged everything and it all worked like clockwork. There was not one hiccough,” says Roy.

They travelled to New Zealand via Los Angeles, staying first with a wonderful couple chosen by Kaye to welcome them to the country. Before long they had picked up their car and began to enjoy the stunning scenery the islands offers, including glaciers, mountains and primeval woodland during their 36 days there.

There was a helicopter flight over Mount Cook for a close up view and the excitement of a ride on a jet boat down a swirling river (Roy says they’d reached the perfect age to really appreciate the thrill of this!)

Overnight stays were with people Kaye has come to know. The Smiths were delighted to arrive at one host’s premises to discover it was “wine o’clock” and everyone was out in the garden ready for them to join in. There were delightful and hearty breakfasts over tables shared with fellow travellers, and meals to remember forever, particularly those with freshly caught fish.

Three days were spent walking with guides through some of the wildest scenery New Zealand offers, crossing rope bridges, viewing the glacial mountains and staying in fabulous lodges in ‘the back of beyond’.

Roy had been concerned about driving in a strange country but says it was spectacularly easy and that with so few people about you find many open roads. His only other concern was that a Maori Experience was on the itinerary as he and Anne tend to avoid organised ‘tourist traps’. The one arranged by Kaye was nothing of the sort, but time spent with local Maoris and a chance to genuinely learn about their way of life.

They travelled by coastal roads to Dunedin, seeing an albatross colony and sea lions basking on the sands. Their visit was a wildlife fan’s dream, with dolphins and even two whales spotted. An Abel Tasman trip by boat may sound a little too organised for the escaping Smiths, but it turned out to be perfect as the boat stopped along the way, allowing them to walk over hillsides and rejoin it at a later point.

But it wasn’t all the call of the wild. They were fascinated by the country’s towns and small cities, including the art deco town of Napier which caught Roy’s creative eye, and Nelson were they tasted the world’s best green mussels.

With the adventure nearly over, they spent time with old friend Carol before heading home via Los Angeles. Even this last stage of their journey included a treat of cycling on the Santa Monica Boardwalk.

“What can I say about Kaye? That lady is such an organiser,” declares Roy. “She knew exactly how to fit the independent parts of our travel around the things you really should see. Bespoke travel really is the way forward for get up and go people like us, and having checked out details of the larger package tours I am quite sure it didn’t cost more by letting Kaye arrange all the details that made our visit such a personal adventure to remember.”

Fancy a dream trip?

Contact Kaye Rankin at All Ways Tailor Made Travel, 01628 526 585, see www.awtm.co.uk. All flights and flight-inclusive holidays are financially protected by the ATOL scheme.

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